How to cope with grief on Mother’s Day

For those who have experienced bereavement, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day not only for those whose Mother has died but also for those who are grieving the death of a grandmother or child.

There is no right or wrong way to get through the day, but Barnsley Hospice’s Lead Counsellor, Janice Blackburn has shared some tips for both adults and children coping with grief this Mother’s Day.

Be kind to yourself

It is natural to find the day difficult, so try your best to accept this and not put any pressure on yourself. Activities that you find relaxing might help to soothe you and can bring an element of self-care to your day. This could be meditation, reading or simply taking a walk.

Ignore the day

If you feel like you will not be able to cope with the emotions of the day, you may want to ignore the day completely. It doesn’t have to be a special day for you anymore – it might have been that you celebrated it enough whilst your Mum was alive.

Write a letter

Writing a letter or card to your Mother may bring you some comfort and help you feel closer to your loved one. Alternatively, writing your feelings in a diary or journal can help when dealing with grief and strong emotions.

Share special memories

Taking time out to reminisce about your favourite memories of your Mum may allow you to reflect on your happy times, with others that loved her too. You may choose to do something symbolic alongside this such as lighting a candle or looking through photographs.

Spend time outdoors

Although it may not be possible, spending time outdoors, either for a walk or just taking a seat, can help with the strong emotions of Mother’s Day. Being out in the fresh air can help to clear your mind, and help you feel more present. Take note of your surroundings, focus on the things around you and try to feel more mindful and in the moment.

Make your own choices

Listen to your heart and do what is right for you. Grief is a very unique and individual experience and only by listening to yourself will you find what is right to spend and celebrate Mother’s Day.

Advice for children coping with grief

Grieving children may feel particularly sad on Mother’s Day and the days leading up to it. It is important for children to talk about how they are feeling. It can be very difficult to watch a child struggle with those overwhelming feelings of grief, but we should not try to take these feelings away or distract them. Instead, acknowledge their emotions, and listen to how things are for your child. Although their mum is no longer with them, children often want to think and talk about her. This can help children to feel their special person has not been forgotten.

Children should always have a choice in what they do. Along with any ideas the child might have, some ways you can help a child remember his or her mum are:

  • Plant some bulbs or a shrub in a place that holds special memories of Mum
  • Eat her favourite meal, such as a Roast dinner or Curry
  • Listen to her favourite music, or music that reminds you of her
  • Your child could ask Nan or Granddad for their memories of Mum as a little girl or ask other significant family/friends about when they first met Mum
  • Bake a cake
  • Write her a letter or a poem; maybe it could start with something like ‘I have one thing I’d like to tell you…’
  • On Mother’s Day itself, it’s important that you all look after yourselves. If things become too much, you could always find a way to take a breather. Give yourself permission to not be OK and, equally, to have fun and smile.

It might be a good idea to talk to your child’s school about any activities they might be planning with the children in school to mark Mother’s Day, so that your child doesn’t feel excluded, and can be given a choice about participating. For example, if their mum has died, your child might choose to make a card to remember them, or make one for another family member.

We offer free bereavement counselling to people experiencing grief after someone close to them has died as a result of a life-limiting illness. If you would like to find out more information about this, visit the counselling services page on our website.

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